In response to a good friend’s request, I first created my Facebook account back in 2005. To be totally honest, I haven’t found the social networking site very valuable at all since then. In the end, Facebook simply didn’t m

ake it for me. I finally deactivated my Facebook account the last week-end.

Is Facebook for Business?

After opening up its registration and its platform to anyone, it has become a really hot topic as whether or not Facebook can morph into a new business instrument.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been good at introducing the pseudo business opportunities of its enterprise. While an increasing number of yuppies drifted to Facebook, the social networking site is relatively new to a lot of companies’ decision makers from all different worldwide industries, and still today they are constantly questioning the use of this social networking web site for the well being of their own company.

During the FB rush of this summer, I attempted to use the networking site as a business tool with some brand evangelism for the company. I found it incredibly time consuming - not to mention that I haven’t been able to evaluate any return from the time invested.

So must we all maximize a Facebook profile for business? Is it a genuine necessity or simply another SecondLife frenzy? Although Facebook might be great for event planners and marketers, the site has not been designed as a business tool and continues to be more of a grown-up addictive place to hang-out and hook-up. Not everyone needs a Facebook account to increase his or her number$ on the board.

Business and professional needs are not similar as your individual needs.

It’s not difficult to cross the line between your personal and professional life on Facebook, since there’s no such barrier.

You don’t always do business with your friends and not each of your clients has to be your friend. Think of those sales associates who hover around you and try to be the best friend you never had…

For example, I experience no need to poke or vampire-bite my colleagues – perhaps I might in real life! Who needs to know what gender your colleagues are interested in dating, what are their interests in a relationship, etc.

Now, should I also worry about offending certain people for not responding to their vampire bites, or not accepting them in my “Facebook network of friends”? Why has this become such a mental masturbation? These things do not help me connect or collaborate efficiently with them. Instead, I have the sense of being in a voyeuristic pseudo-social interest place.

While I do not agree on everything that Pramit Singh says, here are some good points that he’s making:

When you post a message on a Facebook wall, it often becomes a public thing. Do you want your business deals to be as open?

”What you might be doing instead is initiating an acquaintance on Facebook/LinkedIn and take it forward in a style that brings productive results - email, forums, phone calls, group chat, face-to-face meetings and a wide range of other available tools go into the mix.”. Doing business requires time and careful deliberations. It is not easy as poking someone "are you going to party tonight?"

(P. S.: Some disclosure - this writer finds IM, alerts from social networks too annoying. And, no I don't find it worthwhile to search for school friends who weren't that close anyway). Pramit Singh

When I need to simplify communication with other professionals on Facebook, I usually skip the built-in messaging system and go straight to conventional email using Outlook as a more appropriate communication method.

As a result

When it’s all about whom you know, social and human connection rules. In other words, yes, networks are definitely mandatory for your growing business. The issue on whether or not Facebook is right for your professional networking needs becomes very much a personal decision. No one other than you can understand your clients’ needs better, so responsibility must be taken on considering the ideal place to build rapport with your clientele, and it is probably better to choose the solid rock and long-lasting technology than the over-hyped, here-today-gone-tomorrow option

Although Shel Holtz says that blocking access to Facebook would likely be an extreme solution that erodes the trust between employer and employee, employers are blocking access to other web sites judged as non-appropriate for business and there’s not much that employees can do about it.

For the moment, Facebook remains predominantly a personal social network, good for personal branding and self-promotion and somehow offering an alternative way to communicate and keep up with your family and friends. Having said that, I humbly believe that more and more people will fall off Facebook as their lives become more significant and fulfilling

Mathieu Ramage, Media and Editorial Manager of Atelier

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